In case you need a reminder, a former Disney star boy band, the Jonas Brothers, broke up a few years ago. But their star power and influence amongst millennials is still felt...just in a different kind of way. The Jonas Brothers are one of many examples of a celebrity influencer, an individual whose fame and popularity is used to promote brands and various products.
The eldest Jonas brother, Kevin, has been an influencer since his band days but only recently has he brought his fame into the world of entrepreneurship. "Anyone with a cellphone essentially is their own broadcast network," says Kevin in regards to the widespread availability of influencers everywhere. "If you can build a reach for yourself, you're essentially an influencer." And the social influencer trend isn't disappearing any time soon: research reveals that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from others, even strangers, over promotional content coming directly from a brand.
Social influencers have matured quite a bit since they first popped up onto the scene. Brands used to be concerned about relinquishing control over content distribution to an influencer, says Adam Gausepohl, founder of PopShorts, which connects brands to valuable influencers. "What we're seeing is social influencer campaigns being a staple of an overall marketing and advertising strategy employed by large brands." Incorporating native advertising and influencer marketing into a brand's strategy is no longer optional; it's necessary to get ahead of your competitors.
Back to Kevin Jonas, the entrepreneur with a loyal social following. Kevin's own path to becoming a social influencer is interesting; he started as a major celebrity but simultaneously acted like as influencer due to high activity on his social platforms. In 2014 when Jonas launched his food-searching app, Yood!, there were over 10,000 downloads in the first 12 hours.
But there's more to influencer marketing than picking a well-known, popular figure to advocate a product. It's about picking an appropriate influencer, someone who can effectively broadcast your brand's message to your target audience while maintaining that influencer's authenticity. "Every brand is different and every brand has a unique goal," says Kevin. Sometimes going after the biggest and most famous celebrity does more harm than good.
There are plenty of examples of having the wrong person promote the wrong product. Think about that unfortunate time when Ozzy Osbourne and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter were an paired together. Not only would we rarely associate The Prince of Darkness with any food products, but we were a bit confused as to why anyone would have the King of Mumbled Speech advertise a product that actually needs some explaining, itself.
These types of influencer situations tend to be targeting the wrong demographic, but it would also send a negative message of being authentic to audience. A mismatched campaign could result in damaging the reputation of both the brand and the social influencer. Nailing the story of your brand is crucial to identifying the appropriate influencer.
In general, there's the question on the return of investment on social marketing. Is your influencer's SnapChat story actually driving revenue back to your company? Did that YouTuber's video influence the new "likes" you received on a business Facebook page? According to Gausepohl, these influencers actually do make an impact on many consumer decisions. He says, "Numerous studies have shown that the number one thing that influences purchasing decisions is friends, family and those people you look up to." When consumers look for advice and inspiration, they tend to listen to what their peers are saying rather than what a brand has to say.
It's only a matter of time before businesses fully embrace the idea of the social influencer. It begins with solidifying a company's story. It leads into finding the right platform and spokesperson to amplify said story. And each campaign is uniquely different based on the product being sold and the market being targeted.
Sometimes you need the Kevin Jonas' of the world to get the word out. Sometimes, your biggest advocate might just be the kid next door.